Nonverbal components of the populist style of political communication: A study on televised presidential debates in Poland


  • Dorota Piontek Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
  • Małgorzata Tadeusz-Ciesielczyk Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań



nonverbal communication, populism, political communication, television debates, elections


While much of the scholarship on populist political communication focuses on its content and a verbal style, less is known about the nonverbal cues accompanying populist messages. This paper aims in filling that gap by providing findings of the study on characteristics of nonverbal communication of two Polish presidential candidates: Bronisław Komorowski and Andrzej Duda, traced during two debates broadcast on television before the second round of the presidential elections in 2015. The results revealed that both candidates employed nonverbal cues such as appearance, eye contact, facial expressions, or gestures that emphasized their references towards the people or negative attitudes towards elites expressed in their verbal messages. The study also proved that the methods used previously in research on nonverbal content on television observational protocols and analysis of facial expressions may be successfully employed in studies on nonverbal components of the populist style of communication.

Author Biographies

Dorota Piontek, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Dorota Piontek is a professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. Her main area of research is political communication. She is also interested in the mediatization of politics in popular culture. She participated in several international research projects, most recently on populist political communication as a member of the COST Action IS1308, and co-directed the international project on political consultancy in a comparative perspective.

Małgorzata Tadeusz-Ciesielczyk, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Małgorzata Tadeusz-Ciesielczyk is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. She has been working on a PhD thesis on the professionalization of politicians’ image with the focus on nonverbal communication. Her main research areas are rhetorics and interpersonal communication. She works as an image consultant and a voice and speech trainer.


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How to Cite

Piontek, D., & Tadeusz-Ciesielczyk, M. (2019). Nonverbal components of the populist style of political communication: A study on televised presidential debates in Poland . Central European Journal of Communication, 12(2(23), 150-168.